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From Coast to Coast

And the Thunder Rolls...

...And the lightning strikes. Well, fortunately, there was no lightning to speak of at Gulfstream Park after a week of rainy weather, but there was plenty of thunder in the form of Thunder Moccasin. The bay son of A. P. Warrior was a game debut winner on Christmas Eve, but he showed his class today, defeating four other colts in the G2 Hutcheson Stakes. The defection of Ever So Lucky left the gates wide open for the colt to run a big race, and boy did he run a huge one! Il Villano was quickest out of the gate, but Thunder Moccasin was right there with his front-running competitor, never letting Il Villano get further away than a length and a half. Thunder Moccasin chased Il Villano through reasonable fractions of 23.34 for the first quarter and 46.89 for the half before reeling in Il Villano in the stretch drive and drawing off to win by 6 ¾ lengths. Il Villano hung on to hold off a fast closing Quick Wit. Wildcat Creek finished fourth, and Tarpy’s Goal finished last, 23 ¾ lengths behind the winner. Today’s win was Thunder Moccasin’s second in as many starts. After the race, Pletcher told Gulfstream Park’s Laura Villasana, “If he comes back all right, the logical spot next would be the Swale. Right now, my inclination is that he’ll be best staying in one-turn races.” Based on that statement, it sounds as though Pletcher is not considering the Kentucky Derby for this particular trainee despite the graded stakes money the colt earned today. 
Thunder Moccasin’s win was part of the phenomenal day at Gulfstream Park for trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez. Pletcher, winner of four Eclipse awards for Top Trainer, entered today closing in on 3,000 career wins. Pletcher’s first win came in 1996 with a mare named Majestic Number. Ironically enough, Pletcher started another Majestic Number today, this time an Officer colt. The story of the day would have been if Majestic Number, the colt, had earned Pletcher’s 3000th win. That particular story line was not meant to be, however. Instead, highly regarded maiden winner Spring Hill Farm not only gave Pletcher his first win for the day, but he also gave his trainer his 3000th career win. Spring Hill Farm, ridden by Velazquez, was all out in the stretch drive but prevailed by 1 ¼ lengths. Majestic Number, the colt, did give Pletcher victory number 3,001 two races later, chasing the pace then drawing away to win by 3 ¼ lengths. Pletcher also saddled Thunder Moccasin who gave him victory number 3,002. 
Velazquez also had the call on Majestic Number and Thunder Moccasin, once again proving that he and Pletcher make a potent pair. Johnny V. finished the day with four wins from seven mounts, with three of those wins coming on Pletcher trainees. His fourth win was on Hymn Book, the Claude McGaughey III trainee who got up late to win the G1 Donn Handicap. Hymn Book, the third choice in the field of eleven, stalked the pace from the fifth position and then got up late to win by a nose despite being pushed five wide and bumping hard with Where’s Sterling in the stretch. Mission Impazible looked poised to win it all but drifted out in the stretch and lost in the final strides. Redeemed ran third, followed by Where’s Sterling, Flat Out, Trickmeister, Shackleford, Ruler On Ice, Sangaree, Al Khali, and Soaring Empire. Hymn Book’s win ruined Trickmeister’s unblemished record.  Shackleford did not break as sharply today as he has in the past and did not look comfortable not being on the lead.  I do not know if trainer Dale Romans gave jockey Jesus Castanon a different set of instructions for today’s race, but, if he did, he can consider the experiment failed. Shackleford was clearly not happy with being rated, and though the race notes say that he faltered, I believe he just lost interest in the race. Shackleford likes to be loose on the lead and does not look like he will tolerate being forced into a different running style. 
Snow Top Mountain, with jockey Jose Lezcano aboard, closed from the seventh position to take the G3 Suwannee River Stakes. Get Stormy, under Ramon Dominguez, wired the field and captured the G1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap by half a length. Both turf races were run on the grass despite an earlier turf race being moved to the main track due to less than ideal course conditions.


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Older Comments about And the Thunder Rolls......

Shackelford is one tough horse, who loves to be in front. Not necessarily on the lead, but close. Love that horse. He always gives a giant effort.
The great Jen Jade picked Hymn Book! Great to see Get Stormy nail another one too!
All of his dirt races were good. He ran a couple very good seconds but he surprised me to even though I had him I didn't think he'd get there. Love that J V
Great day for the Toddster. The man's barn is loaded!
Neither did I, but maybe his pair of second place finishes in the Cigar Mile and the Suburban Handicap should have been a clue. I sure won't underestimate him again.
Never thought Hymn Book was this good ... my eyes were opened!

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Meet Ashley Tamulonis

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, and it was her love of reading and horses that led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few short years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and get to personally meet and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.


Before joining Horse Racing Nation, Ashley created her own blog Wired with Ashley Paige. The idea to venture into the world of blogging came to her when she realized that she had much to say about horse racing and no one to say it to at the time. Ashley began her time with Horse Racing Nation blogging as The Florida Filly. Using that moniker, she mainly covered racing in South Florida but also blogged about nationwide racing, industry issues, and from time to time offered her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry as a whole. A move north to New Hampshire began both a new chapter in both Ashley's personal life and professional life. She currently pens the new From Coast to Coast blog for HRN, which is simply a revamped version of The Florida Filly. Don't let the new look and name change fool you, though. Ashley still brings to the table the same great coverage as From Coast to Coast as she did for The Florida Filly. Ashley also participates as a voter in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.


An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband Chris and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.

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